Refill Your Glass: A Simple Way to Make the Most of Yourself

“Make the most of yourself, because that’s all there is of you.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Twelve years ago, my husband and I were preparing to adopt our son. As part of the process we were required to take parenting classes.

One of the classes was about taking care of ourselves so that we could take care of others. Given the difficult journey that parenting can be, the instructor encouraged us to “refill our glass.”

Honestly, I couldn’t relate to what he meant. I was young and excited about having a family. Silently I dismissed his suggestion that parenting or anything in my life, for that matter, would challenge me so much that I would need to “refill my glass.”

Eventually I figured out what he meant—and it isn’t just for parents. All of us need to refill our glass so that we can live happy and fulfilling lives.

Refilling my glass is taking those mindful, deliberate actions to improve my mental state and attitude—to lift myself up so that I can continue on a positive path with energy and good intention. I found that by refilling my glass, I could be happy despite the ups and downs that life presents.

Sometimes it’s hard to take the time to figure what we need and why. And it’s easy to feel like a victim.  

In fact, there have been times in my life it when I have preferred to be a victim to my circumstances. When that happens my glass is dry. Thanks to my husband, friends, and websites like Tiny Buddha, I’ve learned how much I can benefit by making the effort to refill my glass.

I’d like to share some simple ideas that helped me:


When I was dealing with a lot stress last year, I felt down and lacked energy. I was going through life in a robotic way. No excitement, no fulfillment. While I didn’t know it, this was a sign that my glass needed refilling.

Over time, I thought about my situation and what solutions could help reduce my stress and reengage my creative energetic self. Eventually I honed in on what was really going on with me: I needed to enliven my life with new interest—something that was for me and challenged me in new ways.

For you, your stress might be the bills to be paid, the laundry that needs to be done, or the challenge of eating healthy. But once you know what’s draining your glass, you can look for ways to address it. Be proactive in your efforts to get to the root of the issue and then begin refilling your glass.


After I understood that my glass was bone dry, I looked for ways to refill it drop by drop. I tried things out to see what worked and what didn’t. It’s different for everyone. While I’ve always liked to exercise, it wasn’t until I tried an intense “boot camp” that I figured out how exercise can really improve my mood.

Before boot camp I was a half-hearted exerciser at best, but when I found something that really clicked, I felt so much better. Eventually I recognized this activity could refill my glass every day. No matter how tired I am or how much I don’t want to workout at 5:15 am, I am recharged after every class or run.

It was at this point I made a lifelong commitment to my personal health. For you, refilling your glass might be spending time with a friend, browsing the shelves at the bookstore, or making time for a cup of coffee at a coffee shop.

Once you find your “thing,” go to it to refill your glass. You will know it when you find it: the stress in your life becomes more manageable and your energy levels and mood lift.


While I still love boot camp, I’ve found over the past year that I needed to add some new things into my life to help me refill my glass. So exactly one year ago, I started writing short story fiction. A few friends encouraged me. I found a great writing coach and since then I’ve written nearly every day.

It’s not always good, but it’s mine, and I’m proud of my creations.  My first short story was published last summer. A year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed that I would be a published author. More importantly, spending time on the “page” is one of the best ways I can refill my glass. But it’s not the only way.

Sometimes it’s reading the stories of how others have made improvements in their lives or it’s going to see live music at the local bar. It’s definitely spending Sunday mornings with my husband, just the two of us, at the local coffee shop.

Being resourceful and mindful of where you are and what you need is key. We aren’t the same people every day, and the efforts we take to help ourselves recharge in today’s hectic lives is different every day too.

Today our son is 13, and we couldn’t be more proud. Bright, talented, and fun, he is everything and more than we dreamed. And despite the stresses that come with parenting a teenager, helping my husband through college, and managing a very fulltime job, I’ve thrived.

I’ve learned so much about myself and found a few hidden talents. I’m gratified that by refilling my glass, I’ve met so many people who have helped me develop and grow. I see my future opening up in unexpected ways.

At some point in all the turmoil of my life, I heard that long ago teacher tell me that I needed to “refill my glass.” Today it makes so much sense.

Have you refilled your glass lately?

Photo by Cissa Ferreira

About Gretchen Knox

Gretchen Knox is a writer and leader of global corporate communications for a Fortune 500 company. In 2011 she decided to follow her writing dream. You can read her work at gretchenknox.com.

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